Wodonga fire started by slashing in heat

A BORDER contractor could be feeling a little sheepish after firefighters said his slashing at a Wodonga property sparked a small grass fire yesterday.

Wodonga Fire Brigade senior station officer Lyndon Bradley said it served as a warning for people using machinery ahead of a week where temperatures were expected to soar past 40 degrees.

“Ask yourself, do you need to do this job on this day and I would say on the days coming up the answer would be no,” Mr Bradley said.

He said yesterday’s half-a-hectare grass fire was sparked about 11am by a contractor who was slashing at a property at Spring Gully Road, off Huon Creek Road.

The fire spread to a neighbour’s property before up to 25 firefighters from Wodonga, Wodonga West, Leneva and Baranduda brigades quickly stemmed the blaze.

“We were very lucky due to the conditions that it didn’t take off further, that we didn’t have the potential wind this morning and the time of the day that it happened,” Mr Bradley said.

The residents of the property were not home at the time and the neighbours the fire impacted, Ian and Debbie McGaffin, were doing farm work at their other property.

Mr McGaffin is a volunteer firefighter and was paged to his street.

He called friend and volunteer John Boyes to the scene before his car got a flat tyre on the way back.

Mr Boyes said calls like it always attracted a fast response from brigades because of the weather.

He said if the fire was left for another 10 minutes it would have roared up into the hills behind the property.

Mr Bradley encouraged people who were not sure if they should carry out machinery work this week to check the CFA website for advice or phone their local fire station.

“If it’s an urgent need to do that make sure the correct fire suppression equipment is available. Make sure the vehicle or machinery is free form mechanical defects, or fitted with a spark arrester,” he said.